The Raven Men's Basketball team opened up postseason play on Thursday night as they took on Central Methodist University inside the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium.
Central Methodist (20-12) entered the game looking for their third straight win over Benedictine (24-7) but the Ravens had other plans as they used a 62.1 percent shooting effort in the second half to keep the Eagles at arm's length and earn a 75-62 win.
The win moves the No. 2-seeded Ravens into the Heart of America Athletic Conference semifinals on Saturday night.
Benedictine struggled from the floor out the gate while CMU was able to build as much as a five-point lead inside the first four minutes of play.
Those five points proved to be CMU's biggest lead of the game as Benedictine started to click offensively by the midpoint of the first half.
After the lead changed hands six times, a 3-pointer by Jonathan Anaekwe pushed the Ravens in front 18-16 with seven minutes and 42 seconds remaining in the first half. That shot sparked a 15-4 run that allowed Benedictine to pull ahead by as much as 13 before settling for a 33-28 lead at the break.
A 3-pointer by CMU's Mitchell Farr pulled the game into its second tie at 37 points inside the first five minutes of the second half but Benedictine never gave up their advantage.
The Ravens outscored the Eagles 18-7 over the next five minutes as John Harris Jr. scored 16 of his game-high 31 points to spark Benedictine.
CMU didn't go down without a fight as the pulled within six points three times inside the final nine minutes of play but they couldn't find an answer for Benedictine's second-half offensive outburst.
Brett Fisher and Jake Schannuth knocked in back-to-back 3-pointers to keep CMU from getting any closer than six points before Harris Jr. capped off his night with a break away dunk to push Benedictine ahead by 13 points with 90 seconds left in the game.
Benedictine outscored CMU 42-26 in the paint as Harris Jr. set a new single-game individual high with 14 field goals. Jallen Messersmith chipped in with 14 points, converting on 6 of 7 field goals while Anaekwe finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Ravens remain at home on Saturday as they host No. 3 seed Missouri Valley College back inside the Nolan Gymnasium at 7 p.m. The Ravens and the Vikings split the regular-season series successfully defending their respective home floors. Benedictine earned a 82-74 win in Atchison on Jan. 17 and then Valley earned a 77-76 win in Marshall, Mo., on Feb. 21.